New York Medical Cannabis
Medical weed is one of the hottest topics in the healthcare community today. With more than half of the states deciding to legalize its use for some of the worst medical conditions, its popularity will likely rise in response.
Although it was a very contentious debate throughout New York, the Compassionate Care Act was finally passed in July 2014. For the following year, residents, practitioners, and dispensaries prepared for the full implementation of the law in January 2016. Since that time, there have been a few changes and additions, but for the foreseeable future, residents of the Empire State will have access to one of the most beneficial, yet controversial herbs in America.
What is medical cannabis?
While many Americans are familiar with cannabis as one of several recreational drugs available on the black market, few understand its origins and connections to medical treatment. Contrary to what many believe, marijuana has been around for thousands of years.
Once prized as a religious sacrament, cannabis has fallen into its current status in society due to many things, being misunderstood the biggest of them. While it is true that marijuana is a psychoactive herb, it can be used for so much more if taken in moderation, and while under the advisement of a qualified medical practitioner.
The term medical pot may seem like an oxymoron considering its shaky legal status; however, the term is used to describe the effectiveness in treating symptoms of illnesses and other conditions. At this time, the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) has not recognized or approved cannabis as a medicine despite their recent approval of an anti-seizure medication called Epidolex that is derived from the cannabis plant.
Under the current laws, the FDA has maintained cannabis’ classification as a Schedule 1 drug. As a schedule 1, the government has failed to recognize marijuana’s ability to show practical medical use and maintains that cannabis has a higher than average potential for abuse. Thankfully, as more and more individuals are turning to alternative methods to treat their illnesses, practitioners have increased their understanding of how cannabis can be used.
Although there are more than 400 chemicals found in the marijuana plant, researchers have only scratched the surface of what it contains. At present, the two most understood chemicals are THC and CBD. Each of these chemicals has not only been found to be effective in treating specific conditions; they rarely have any adverse effects if patients commit to using their “medicine” as prescribed.
Legal requirements for medical cannabis in NYS
Individuals who live in NYS and have been diagnosed with a life-threatening or debilitating condition should seek the advice of a qualified healthcare professional when considering medical weed. While not all illnesses have been approved for this type of therapy, the list is expanding, and individuals are encouraged to review the state’s requirements periodically. The current list includes the following qualifying conditions:
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
- Parkinson’s Disease
- Multiple sclerosis (MS)
- Spinal Cord injury with spasticity
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Huntington’s disease
- Post-Traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Chronic pain
- Pain that degrades health and functional capability as an alternative to opioid use or substance use disorder
The severe or debilitating or life-threatening condition must also be accompanied by one or more of the following associated or complicating conditions:
- Cachexia or wasting syndrome
- Severe or chronic pain
- Severe nausea
- Severe or persistent muscle spasms
- Opioid use disorder
A licensed MMJ practitioner should evaluate patients who have been diagnosed with any of these conditions. A patient under the age of 18 must have their parent’s consent and have a designated healthcare professional who can legally purchase, administer, and retain their medications for them.
Although some states do not have a limitation on the way a patient consumes their medical weed, New York does. The current list of approved consumption methods are as follows:
- Capsules, tablets, lozenges
- Topicals and transdermal patches
At this time, smoking (the most recognizable method) as well as consuming in an edible form is prohibited.
What to expect during an MMJ evaluation?
Patients who wish to be evaluated for MMJ in NY have two means of seeing a provider. Traditionally, patients would make an appointment to visit a healthcare provider. In some areas, it can take several weeks. Thanks to the addition of telemedicine, patients have the potential of being seen by a practitioner within a few days.
Telemedicine is increasingly becoming an essential part of the American healthcare infrastructure. Using telecommunications technology, practitioners can evaluate, diagnose, and treat patients at a distance. Because most patients will already have a qualifying diagnosis, the previous medical records and supporting documentation will need to be sent to the MMJ provider.
Once they have reviewed the information, they will ask the patient a series of questions that may include how other treatment options and medications worked, or, in many cases, didn’t work in the past. Practitioners will also need to know about any prior history of drug dependence or abuse.
Once the providing practitioner is satisfied that medical weed is a viable option, they will make a recommendation to the New York’s State Medical Marijuana Program. In a short amount of time, the patient and designated caregiver will receive a card allowing them to purchase products from one of the local dispensaries. These cards will expire each year requiring that patients complete a re-evaluation.
MMP patients should take great care in transporting and using their medications as certain activities can still result in difficulties with the police. Public use is strictly prohibited. Because each person reacts differently to marijuana, using it while driving or working with heavy machinery can be dangerous and will result in the same costly tickets that alcohol does.
Since legalization in some of the states, the medical community has seen a considerable increase in individuals seeking help for several conditions. While this may seem counterproductive, the fact of the matter is, medical pot can work and is safe if specific guidelines are met. In NYS, the program has been so successful that the annual overdose rate for opioids dropped by approximately 25 percent. This vital statistic has led researchers to the conclusion that patients suffering from chronic pain have had the most positive results from the passage of the Compassionate Care Act. If you feel your condition can benefit from medical cannabis schedule your consultation today with MDBerry.